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Can the 49ers Still Make the Playoffs?

In this Friday edition of Niners Daily, we detail what needs to happen for the San Francisco 49ers to earn a Wild Card berth in the crowded NFC playoff picture. 

Postseason Scenarios

With the Arizona Cardinals win on Thursday night over the St. Louis Rams, the 49ers were officially eliminated from the division race. But even though the team can't win the NFC West, it is still very much alive in the Wild Card race.

Let's take a look at how the 49ers could play in January for the fourth straight season.

First off, San Francisco needs to finish 3-0. A 9-7 record would only be enough if two other contending teams go 0-3 down the stretch, which appears unlikely.

Anyway, say the 49ers do end up 10-6. The team would need two of the following three scenarios to occur to secure a Wild Card spot:

1. Detroit Lions finish 1-2 (for tiebreaking purposes, one of those losses has to come versus the Chicago Bears)

2. Seattle Seahawks finish 1-1 (assuming a Week 15 loss to San Francisco)

3. Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys finish 1-1 (the teams play each other in Week 15, so whoever loses has to fall again in Week 16 or 17)

Detroit (9-4) hosts Minnesota (6-7), then travels to Chicago (5-8) and Green Bay (10-3).

Seattle (9-4) visits Arizona (11-3) before hosting St Louis (6-8).

Philadelphia (9-4) takes road trips to Washington (3-10) and New York (4-9), while Dallas (9-4) hosts Indianapolis (9-4) and visits Washington.

More improbable paths also exist if the Packers lose out or the winner of the Eagles-Cowboys matchup drops its last two games.

Keep the faith, Faithful.

How to Attack Sherman

Two weeks ago, when the Seahawks defeated the 49ers, 19-3, in Santa Clara, two of the bigger plays in the game were interceptions of Colin Kaepernick by Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman. That performance, of course, came after what happened in January in the NFC Championship game, which you probably don't need to be reminded of now.

"We've definitely helped out his stat sheet the past couple games," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said on Thursday, "but he's one of the better corners you go against in the National Football League."

So what exactly does the 49ers offense need to do on Sunday to reverse its fortunes versus Sherman?

"You've got to be precise," said Roman, who added that Sherman played some wide receiver under him at Stanford. "You've got to be precise when you work anywhere against this Seattle defense."

When talking about the Seahawks defense in general, Roman compared its philosophy to what former 49ers coach George Seifert ran in San Francisco during the 1990s.

"They do a very nice job of taking their players and giving them a little freedom to do what they do well within that scheme," Roman said. "It's a pretty basic scheme, but it's really played cohesively. And (Sherman) on the right most of the time is a guy you've got to be extremely mindful of, but you've got to be mindful of the whole defense.

"They play that free safety, (Earl) Thomas, a little bit like Ed Reed, in the sense that he's got some freedom to watch the quarterback and straight-line it and come downhill on runs. They do a very nice job to a man."

The Vault

The last time the 49ers won in Seattle came in 2011, when David Akers kicked a 39-yard field goal with three minutes left to lift San Francisco to a 19-17 victory.

This game, of course, saw Larry Grant's famous "Skittles" celebration with a Faithful after strip-sacking Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson late in the fourth quarter. A sweet win, indeed.

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